What does Open Source Mean for Digital Asset Management?
As you probably know, Razuna is an open source digital asset management software. This basically means that you can download the software and use it for free as long as you adhere to the AGPL license terms.
So — the question is: Why do we do that? Why would we give our software away for free? How does Razuna make money?
To start with the latter first; We make money in three ways:
1) By offering a stable cloud version, so you don’t have to worry about downloading, installing, patching and upgrading — not to mention storage, backup and bandwidth.
2) By offering support plans, so you don’t have to worry about downloading, installing, patching and upgrading. This also is your ticket to buy add-on modules.
3) By offering a commercial license, whereby software companies can embed Razuna into their software and redistribute — or hosting companies or web agencies can rebrand and resell Razuna.
That’s how we make money — our revenue more than doubles annually, so it works.
Now — why do we give it away?
We do this, because we hope that people who download Razuna will go ahead and buy support plans — or that they will contribute to making Razuna a better software. We have received a lot of different contributions from integration components to really intelligent suggestions for improvements. (And some not so intelligent, but we don’t mind….)
An email arrived in my mailbox…
Why am I writing this blog post? Well, a short while ago, I received the email below (I have deleted one word, so the sender and the project can remain anonymous). I was quite surprised, and I decided to write this post, so maybe others out there can understand, what open source means.
The email read:
for 2 state institutions, we are working on public awareness websites which use Razuna for building complex media libraries that are then connected to Typo3. Razuna is hosted on our own servers, and we have developed our own extension to connect it to Typo3. We would be interested in using the Workflow plugin, and would like to know what the cost of a license would be. As a proposal, in return for a free license, we could publish our extension to integrate Razuna with Typo3 in the Typo3 repositories. At this point there is no such extension available, so this should open a lot of doors for you, and boost future sales. Would this be something you could be interested in?
Thanks, and kind regards,
So — what they propose is that on top of allowing them to use Razuna for free, we also throw in the commercial modules for free.
My answer was this:
Hi xxxxx, Thank you for contacting us. I’m really excited to hear that you are using Razuna the way you are. And I would be happy to discuss the workflow plugin with you.
First, I should probably tell you, that you are in fact obligated to release the source code for your Typo3 plugin and make it available on your website, Github, Razuna or similar, since Razuna is distributed under the AGPL license terms. This requirement is stated clearly in section 6 and especially 13 in the AGPL license terms, which you can find here: https://gnu.org/licenses/agpl.html
This is how open source works. By providing Razuna for free, we encourage our users to contribute, e.g. by developing plugins. Only users, who have a commercial license agreement (or AGPL exempt) with us, may develop against Razuna without releasing the source code. This is typically enterprises, who wish to distribute Razuna along with closed source systems.
So — in your case, I can offer you a Razuna Business support agreement with the workflow plugin. And since I do appreciate the fact that you have developed a Typo3 plugin, I will offer you a 30% discount on this. You will have to release the source code and make it publicly available via e.g. Github or similar, so users can download it.
We love it, when developers or companies develop components that work with Razuna. I also think that if this person had contacted me with something else than a quid-pro-quo email to start with, I might have been more lenient. But the fact of the matter is that the company was using Razuna for two major state instituions without paying us a dime. And that is not a problem at all. We have many state institutions using Razuna for free. The Icelandic Parliament springs to mind. But this company had developed a cool plugin to make Razuna work with their customer’s Typo3 install. They should have released this to the community for free. In fact, they were under obligation to release the source code for free.
That’s how open source works. We give you our software for free, but if you do something to improve it, you’re supposed to give that back. This company took Razuna for free, and tried to sell us an improvement. Where’s the fairness in that?
They had not even considered the fact that they were breaching the license terms. If they wanted to keep the plugin to themselves, then by all means. But when that is the case, then it’s time to contact us for a commercial agreement.
So — what do you think? Was my response fair? Should I have given them the workflow plugin (and thereby the Razuna enterprise package) for free?